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This post is a digest of an animated discussion we had at Livestorm during lunch this week.

As silly as it sounds, we found ourselves debating about how marketing have been impacted in the past years (and even months) by new « real-time » channels.

Let us know what you think in the comment section.

From « buffered communities » to « real-time communities »

First, today’s communities can be split between « buffered communities » and « real-time communities ».

On one hand, on platforms such as Reddit, Imgur, or people interact via the comment section or private inbox.

The communication pattern is buffered. There’s a delay between the first message and the reply. This gives time to build an appropriate reply (if there’s any!).

On the other hand, Slack (or Gitter) enabled us to create active discussions in communities around growth, startups, tech or even podcasts. The communication pattern here emulates an IRL discussion.

Also, Slack-like communities have bring many more opportunities in terms of product. In large Slack communities such as the Startup Foundation or ProductHunt Global, it is easier to ask for feedback in real-time, engage discussions and even reach out to potential customers.

PandoDaily, also mentioned the broader use of Slack, outside internal communications, in discussion groups.

But it’s not just business teams that are using the platform for internal communication. Organizations and individual consumers are flocking to the platform in droves, repurposing Slack as a public or at least external communication forum.

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What has changed from a marketing standpoint?

Getting involved in those communities is harder.

It requires reactivity and dedication. Just like real relationships. Therefore, your brand gets more and more impersonated.

The risk factor is also incredibly higher. There’s no coming back from a failed live demo (been there, done that), or a misinterpreted chat message (yep, that too).

3 reasons to start building a community on Slack

On the other hand, the potential win is undeniably high. Successful Slack communities are great visibility boosts for your brand.

Also, Slacklist list over 450+ Slack communities, whereas Linkedin or Reddit has millions of them. Lower competition means more opportunities.

The fact that there are live discussions going on all the time means more engagement from everyone.

From email campaigns to 1:1 live discussions.

Just like communities, the communication pattern of an email has a strong buffer.

This delay raises an « invisible wall » between the two interlocutors. It’s easier to ignore an e-mail than a pending message.

Lately, companies like Drift have changed the game of 1:1 communications.

People got (relatively*) tired of speaking to automated email campaigns or cold forms in a contact section.

The need of an immediate response has prevailed.

*At specific periods of a customer journey

What has changed from a marketing standpoint?

1:1s increases dramatically conversion and reduces churn risk at certain stages of a customer lifecycle.

Just on mobile, a research from Localytics in mid-2015 showed that in-app messages have 2-3.5x higher user retention and 27% more app launches.

When we asked our friends at Drift about how much 1:1 is important in their own marketing, here’s what they told us:

« One of the things that's had the biggest impact on our marketing is 1:1 messaging […] the biggest channel for us has been live chat on our homepage […] we typically talk to anywhere between 10 and 20% of all of our website visitors in any week because of it. » Dave Gerhardt, Marketing Lead @ Drift.

People want to talk to humans. Your marketing efforts should be directed to:

  • Creating conversation opportunities
  • Giving the right tools
  • Proving relevant data in real-time on your customers

But don’t get me wrong. Don’t drop your email campaigns yet. Small changes can make the difference.

Instead of asking yourself « what link do I want them to click? » maybe we could try to think about « what kind of conversation do I want to start? » .

Or as Dave put it:

« We switched up our welcome email so the first email is designed to get someone to reply and say hi -- and now I start every day replying to 20-50 people who have subscribed overnight. Can't think of a better way to start the day than having real conversations with real people that are interested in Drift. »

From past events to live events

For example, I spend a ridiculously amount of time on Youtube. I watch from replays of live gaming shows to live business discussion.

Many youtubers or podcasters have indeed partly switched or completely switched to live events.

By the way, here’s an interesting piece on Youtube Live published by Wired last year.

youtube live

The reason is pretty simple. Engagement and attendance rate during live events is (way) much higher.

From our current and past experience at Livestorm, we noticed that between 30% and 45% of registrants eventually attend a webinar.

Also, unlike the usual video consumption on the Web, people usually watch webinars for… 56-minutes in average. And that number keeps growing!

The fear of missing out, and the frustration of not « being there », also dramatically increase your audience engagement.

What has changed from a marketing standpoint?

Basically more work, more investments, more engagement, more data, more everything.

Engagement is king when it comes to building content. You want people to read your blog posts, share it, comment or click on whatever link you put in there.

Live events work the same. You want people to participate and eventually share, click etc. The unique difference is that live events are better at this.

Also, successful webinar series or webcasts can dramatically boost your brand’s visibility.

One last noticeable thing is that live events will generate more data than any other channel.

People will usually fill out a form (even just an email), engage on your polls, question section, chat, or whatever you have.

That generates tons of events that you can capture and link to a profile. Now multiply this by the number of attendees!

What can you do now to create live events?

First focus on your research. What do you / can you talk about? Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has something interesting to talk about.

If you are running a helpdesk software: do a AMA with your head of customer success and invite people from your branch to ask for best practices.

If you are a founder: do live shows about work / life balance and how to avoid stressful situations.

If you are a specialist in technology X: do live screencasts of coding sessions.

You get the idea. Finding content ideas for live events is not very hard.

What’s really important is to focus on what’s around live events. Stuff like the setup, the audience targeting, or the event promotion.

Finally if you are looking for best practices on webinars or live events you should check out our definitive guide to webinars.

The need of an immediate data response

To support this new paradigm we need to rely on infrastructures capable of providing real-time data on the interlocutor (customer, attendee, etc.).

Real-time marketing will walk side by side with APIs and tracking softwares.

Some companies like Clearbit or Mattermark already provide tons of useful data on your customer in a minimal response time.

Tracking APIs like Segment are now providing tracking methods with semantic properties specially built for live chats.

Long story short, real-time seems to be changing the marketing game. But, what do you think?

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